The penthouse prison: Judge orders Chinese billionaire to spend 24 hours a day in £6million luxury apartment with private pool after he posted record £15m bail following ‘bribery’ arrest at Heathrow
- Billionaire Li Zhang, 70, detained at Heathrow on an American arrest warrant
- He denies allegations of bribery and kickbacks made by US authorities
A Chinese businessman – currently on bail in London amid extradition proceedings – is still able to live in a luxury penthouse in opulence thanks to unusual court rulings.
Billionaire Li Zhang, 70, was arrested at Heathrow Airport by police acting on an American warrant.
The co-chairman of the R&F Properties conglomerate denies US authorities’ allegations of bribery and providing kickbacks for permits for a building project.
He has had his Chinese and Canadian passports taken from him but has been allowed to be bailed to his £6million five bedroom 43rd-floor penthouse overlooking the Thames.
Zhang Li, Co-Chairman and President of R&F Properties Group, is currently on luxury bail
Mr Zhang has access to a private swimming pool after lodging £15million bail and agreeing to pay £200,000 for a private security operation
There he has access to a private swimming pool after lodging £15million bail and agreeing to pay £200,000 for a private security operation to keep him under 24-hour guard
The extraordinary arrangements, revealed by The Times, are said to be the joint highest surety in legal history in the UK.
Bail has been lodged with Westminster Magistrates Court and were disclosed in a hearing yesterday.
JPs were told Mr Zhang – who is worth an estimated $2.3 billion – is being guarded by British security firm Eminent Crisis Management working in 12-hour shifts.
He has been bailed to his £6million five bedroom 43rd-floor penthouse overlooking the Thames
A camera monitors him in his bedroom and he has to be accompanied down to the private swimming pool when he fancies taking a dip.
It was this measure Judge John Zani made yesterday, replacing a previous condition that he had to be handcuffed in the lift to the pool.
The judge remarked that there ‘aren’t many swimming pools in Wandsworth prison’ but accepted he was complying with ‘a complicated set of bail conditions, which need time to bed in and work through’.
He agreed Zhang could have his electronic tag removed after the court was told the technology did not work well because of a poor signal.
Nicholas Howard, of Eminent, said Zhang was ‘under surveillance 24/7’ and added: ‘He is complying with all the conditions.’
Ben Lloyd, counsel for the US government, urged against ‘incremental attempts to water down the conditions’.
Zhang is the co-chair of R&F with billionaire Li Sze Lim and they founded the company together in 1994.
In London it has two big projects, Queen’s Square in Croydon and the Thames City development at Nine Elms.
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